Song of the Lark
THEA noticed that Bowers took rather more pains with her now that Fred
Ottenburg often dropped in at eleven-thirty to hear her lesson. After the lesson
the young man took Bowers off to lunch with him, and Bowers liked good food
when another man paid for it. He encouraged Fred's visits, and Thea soon saw
that Fred knew exactly why.
One morning, after her lesson, Ottenburg turned to Bowers. "If you'll lend me
Miss Thea, I think I have an engagement for her. Mrs. Henry Nathanmeyer is
going to give three musical evenings in April, first three Saturdays, and she has
consulted me about soloists. For the first evening she has a young violinist, and
she would be charmed to have Miss Kronborg. She will pay fifty dollars. Not
much, but Miss Thea would meet some people there who might be useful. What
do you say?"
Bowers passed the question on to Thea. "I guess you could use the fifty,
couldn't you, Miss Kronborg? You can easily work up some songs."
Thea was perplexed. "I need the money awfully," she said frankly; "but I
haven't got the right clothes for that sort of thing. I suppose I'd better try to get
Ottenburg spoke up quickly, "Oh, you'd make nothing out of it if you went to
buying evening clothes. I've thought of that. Mrs. Nathanmeyer has a troop of
daughters, a perfect seraglio, all ages and sizes. She'll be glad to fit you out, if
you aren't sensitive about wearing kosher clothes. Let me take you to see her,
and you'll find that she'll arrange that easily enough. I told her she must produce
something nice, blue or yellow, and properly cut. I brought half a dozen Worth
gowns through the customs for her two weeks ago, and she's not ungrateful.
When can we go to see her?"
"I haven't any time free, except at night," Thea replied in some confusion.
"To-morrow evening, then? I shall call for you at eight. Bring all your songs
along; she will want us to give her a little rehearsal, perhaps. I'll play your
accompaniments, if you've no objection. That will save money for you and for
Mrs. Nathanmeyer. She needs it." Ottenburg chuckled as he took down the
number of Thea's boarding-house.
The Nathanmeyers were so rich and great that even Thea had heard of them,
and this seemed a very remarkable opportunity. Ottenburg had brought it about
by merely lifting a finger, apparently. He was a beer prince sure enough, as
Bowers had said.
The next evening at a quarter to eight Thea was dressed and waiting in the
boarding-house parlor. She was nervous and fidgety and found it difficult to sit
still on the hard, convex upholstery of the chairs. She tried them one after
another, moving about the dimly lighted, musty room, where the gas always
leaked gently and sang in the burners. There was no one in the parlor but the